It was inevitable that despite Israel releasing over a thousand terrorists (including murderers), the Guardian would find a peg on which to hang its hatred of the Jewish State yet again. In this case it takes the form of a mendacious article by some one called Deborah Orr.
Disengenuously titled Is an Israeli life really more important than a Palestinian’s? Ms Orr’s article tries to imply that the world reaction to Israel’s willingness to release such a large number of terrorists for one soldier is “an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives.” And just to make it clear that she is attacking the Jewish state and not merely the world at large, she adds: “who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? ”
And then to further make it clear that she extends this criticism to the citizens of the State of Israel, as well as its supporters, she then refers to: “what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours.” She says Zionists. She means JEWS.
Whilst the word “chosen” is as misleading with regard to Jews as it is to Zionists (the Jews chose to believe in a single deity; the “deity” did not choose them) the fact is that the words “chosen” and “chosen people” have historically been applied to the Jews, not to the Zionists. Ms Orr, as a woman with at least a modicum of intelligence, certainly knows this – and knows also that her readers will understand the words that way. She may try to weasel out of this conclusion by claiming that Zionists think they have been chosen to inherit the disputed land. But then she could have used a word like “privileged” instead of “chosen” with its obvious association with the Jews.
But Jews have lived with antisemitism for so long, that it is now like water off a duck’s back. It is the brazen dishonesty of Deborah Orr’s article, rather than its thinly-veiled antisemitism, that is the problem.
For a start Ms Orr’s use of the word “life” in the context of the prisoner exchange implies that the lives of the Palestinian prisoners were in jeopardy. She knows full-well that they were not. In fact the Palestinian terrorists were safer in Israeli prisons. Now that they are out, they will either resume their terrorism (risking their own lives in the process) or refuse to continue as terrorists, in which case they will become suspect in the eyes of their Hamas brethren, to the point of risking accusations of treason. Either way, they are in greater danger now than they were when imprisoned in Israel.
For their part, the Israelis knew from the experience with Ron Arad that if they did not negotiate, and if it became clear to the terrorists that they were not going to budge, then Hamas would have murdered Gilad Shalit. See for example: http://www.qassam.ps/news-748-EQB_Gilad_Shalit_will_face_the_fate_of_Ron_Arad_If_the_Zionist_enemy_continued_its_procrastination.html
In contrast, the only effect of the passage of time for the terrorist prisoners held by Israel would be that for those not serving life sentences for murder, their release dates would be getting nearer. Thus while the imbalances take on one guise when one looks at the number of terrorists Israel released or compares the crimes of those terrorists to the innocence of Gilad Shalit, that imbalance takes on an altogether different guise when one considers the prospective fates of Gilad Shalit and the terrorists respectively.
Now Ms Orr might try to weasel out of it on the other side of the box into which she has locked herself, by claiming that her use of the word “lives” was a reference to the number of people murdered by the terrorists (quite a high number) as opposed to the number of people killed by Gilad Shalit (as in zero). But then it would show the oppositeof what Ms. Orr is claiming: that Israel does not put a premium on Israeli lives over Palestinian lives. Moreover, such an argument would merely show that Israel shares with other civilized nations that sentiment so eloquently expressed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn: that obligation to the living outweighs duty to the dead. In other words, punishing those who murdered Israeli citizens in the past was less important than saving an Israeli citizen who was currently in danger. But to acknowledge that, would refute Ms Orr’s thesis that the Israelis view the lives of their own more highly than those of others. And of course, such an argument would require a degree of honesty of which Ms Orr is incapable.
Having said that, one could argue that by releasing those who murdered Israelis in the past, Israel has increased the likelihood of other Israelis being murdered in the future. This is true both because of the likelihood that some of the released terrorists will return to their evil ways and because other Palestinian Arabs will be emboldened by their release. But this is one criticism that Ms Orr chooses not to make, because whilst it is a criticism of the Israeli government, it is not a criticism of Israeli society, and it therefore falls outside the scope of Ms Orr’s nefarious agenda.
Interestingly Ms Orr does not discuss the conflicted feelings of Israelis regarding the prisoner exchange, or contrast those feelings to the unmitigated joy amongst the Palestinians. If the Palestinians had genuinely felt that Shalit was a wrongdoer with innocent Palestinian blood on his hands, they too would have had similar mixed feelings about his release. Yet all she tells us in this regard is that Hamas were “abject in their eagerness to accept” the unequal exchange. This phraseology brazenly and mendaciously implies that it was Israel that instigated the unequal exchange and that Hamas merely accepted it. Is the lady incapable of speaking the truth? Does she really not know that Hamas demanded the large-scale release of their terrorists, whereas Israel reluctantly accepted it?
Of course she could say that what she meant was that by holding out for the release of many, Hamas risked leaving the table empty-handed and that this shows a lack of regard for their own. In other words, it is not a case of Israel valuing its people more than Palestinians, because – as Deborah Orr well knows – in negotiations each side bargains for its own. Rather it is a case of Israel valueing its own more than the Palestinians value theirs – a very different matter, and a truth that Deborah Orr is loathe to acknowledge explicitly.
And yes, of course Israel values its citizens very highly – and rightly so. This is not because they are worth more than other human beings. It is because any decent state has an inherent sense of obligation and duty towards its citizens – especially its serving soldiers. But whilst Ms Orr had no qualms about criticizing Hamas, it has to be in terms equally disparaging to the Jewish state. Consequently, she was, and is, unwilling to acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel’s action.
But is Deborah Orr really incapable of understanding a nation’s commitment to its serving soldiers ? Does she really not know that it was not just Gilad Shalit’s liberty that was at stake but also his life? Is she not aware that Gilad Shalit was held incommunicado for many years, unlike the Palestinian terrorists who were allowed Red Cross visits? Does she really have no understanding of the concept of national morale or the effect that this prolonged period of solitary detention would have not just on Shalit but on the morale of a nation that does care about its citizens?
Or is she simply indulging her penchant for mendacity in a malicious effort to stir up hostility towards the Jewish state and thus – by implication – the Jewish people?